Driving under the influence (DUI) cases are taken very seriously in New York, with strict laws and severe penalties in place to deter drunk driving. However, individuals facing DUI charges have the right to defend themselves in court. In this blog post, we will explore some common defenses used in New York DUI cases, providing an overview of the legal strategies that can be employed to challenge DUI charges.
Challenging the Traffic Stop:
One defense strategy involves challenging the legality of the traffic stop that led to the DUI arrest. Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull a driver over. If it can be proven that the officer lacked proper justification for the stop, any evidence obtained thereafter may be deemed inadmissible in court, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case.
Contesting Field Sobriety Tests:
Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, are commonly used by law enforcement to assess a driver’s impairment. However, these tests are subjective and can be influenced by various factors, such as fatigue, nervousness, or medical conditions. A skilled defense attorney can challenge the reliability and accuracy of these tests, potentially casting doubt on the driver’s alleged impairment.
Disputing Breathalyzer Results:
Breathalyzer tests are commonly used to measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, these devices must be properly calibrated, maintained, and administered by certified personnel. Defense attorneys can scrutinize the breathalyzer’s accuracy and reliability, questioning the validity of the results. Factors such as medical conditions, certain diets, or mouth alcohol contamination can also impact breathalyzer readings.
Arguing Rising Blood Alcohol Content (BAC):
A rising blood alcohol content defense asserts that the driver’s BAC was within the legal limit at the time of driving but increased subsequently due to the time it took to be tested. This defense relies on expert testimony and supporting evidence to demonstrate that the driver’s BAC exceeded the legal limit only after the initial traffic stop, making the person technically not guilty of driving while intoxicated.
Challenging Blood or Urine Tests:
When breathalyzer results are unavailable or inconclusive, blood or urine tests may be used to determine a driver’s BAC. These tests must adhere to strict protocols and chain of custody procedures to ensure accuracy and prevent contamination. Defense attorneys can challenge the validity of these tests by examining the handling, storage, or transportation of the samples, as well as the qualifications of the laboratory personnel.
Introducing Alternative Explanations:
Another defense strategy involves providing alternative explanations for the driver’s behavior or appearance of impairment. Factors such as fatigue, medication side effects, or medical conditions can mimic the signs of intoxication. By presenting evidence that supports these alternative explanations, the defense can raise doubt about the driver’s actual impairment due to alcohol consumption.
Challenging Police Conduct:
In some cases, a defense attorney may challenge the conduct of law enforcement officers involved in the arrest. This could include violations of the driver’s constitutional rights, improper administration of tests, coercion, or mishandling of evidence. Any misconduct or procedural errors can weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially lead to reduced charges or even dismissal.
Establishing Unreliable Witnesses:
Witness testimony plays a crucial role in DUI cases. Defense attorneys may scrutinize the credibility and reliability of witnesses, including police officers, eyewitnesses, or individuals who reported erratic driving. Inconsistencies in their statements, biases, or lack of direct observation can be used to challenge the prosecution’s version of events.
Questioning Police Training and Certification:
To conduct DUI investigations, law enforcement officers must receive proper training and certification. Defense attorneys may question the officer’s training records, certifications, or lack of experience in handling DUI cases. If it can be demonstrated that the officer lacked the necessary expertise or violated established protocols, it can undermine the credibility of their observations and actions during the arrest.
Negotiating Plea Bargains or Alternative Sentencing:
In some instances, it may be in the best interest of the defendant to negotiate a plea bargain or alternative sentencing options. A skilled defense attorney can explore opportunities to reduce charges or minimize penalties by presenting mitigating factors, such as the defendant’s lack of prior convictions, completion of rehabilitation programs, or evidence of responsible behavior.
Navigating a DUI case in New York requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal defenses available. By working with an experienced DUI defense attorney, defendants can develop a strong defense strategy tailored to their specific circumstances. Whether it’s challenging the traffic stop, disputing test results, questioning the conduct of law enforcement officers, or exploring alternative explanations, a robust defense can make a significant difference in the outcome of a DUI case. Remember, everyone is entitled to a fair and thorough defense to protect their rights and seek the best possible resolution.
At our law firm, at Michael D. Schmitt, ESQ., we have a team of experienced attorneys specializing in DUI defense in New York. We understand the complexities of New York DUI laws and have a deep knowledge of the common defenses used in these cases. Here’s how we can assist you:
Expert Legal Advice: We provide expert legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We will explain your rights, analyze the evidence against you, and guide you through the available defenses, helping you make informed decisions at every stage of your case.
Thorough Case Evaluation: Our team conducts a comprehensive review of the evidence, including police reports, test results, and witness statements. This allows us to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and build a strong defense strategy to challenge their allegations.
Challenging Traffic Stop: If the legality of the traffic stop is questionable, we will carefully examine the circumstances surrounding it. If we find that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause, we will seek to suppress any evidence obtained during the stop.
Field Sobriety Test Analysis: We thoroughly assess the administration and interpretation of field sobriety tests. Our team will investigate factors that may have affected the results and challenge the reliability of these tests, aiming to cast doubt on the allegations of impairment.
Breathalyzer and Blood/Urine Test Defense: With our understanding of the scientific principles behind breathalyzer and blood/urine tests, we scrutinize the accuracy and reliability of these tests. We investigate calibration, maintenance, and the qualifications of those administering the tests, identifying potential weaknesses in the evidence.
Expert Witness Testimony: We work with qualified experts who can provide expert testimony supporting your defense. These experts can challenge the validity of the tests or offer alternative explanations for your behavior or test results, strengthening your case.
Negotiating with Prosecutors: Our skilled negotiators engage in plea bargaining with prosecutors on your behalf. We present mitigating factors, advocate for reduced charges or penalties, and explore alternative sentencing options to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Courtroom Representation: Our attorneys provide strong courtroom representation, vigorously advocating for your defense. We leverage our courtroom experience and persuasive skills to challenge the prosecution’s case, protect your rights, and strive for a favorable resolution.
We are committed to helping individuals facing DUI charges in New York. With our expertise, thorough evaluation of your case, and strategic defense tactics, we work tirelessly to protect your rights, challenge the evidence against you, and achieve the best possible outcome in your DUI case.